What is the Internet of Things?
Authored by a Symantec employee
“The Internet of Things” or “IoT”: It’s a phrase you may have seen or heard as our world grows more connected by the day. But what does it mean?
In a broad sense, IoT refers to everyday objects communicating—both with you and other devices via the Internet.
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No, we don’t mean your desk lamp discussing the finer points of last night’s big game. Rather, think about your refrigerator alerting you that you’re low on eggs and milk and you should probably pick more up since it knows that you’re near the supermarket. Pretty cool, huh? It is! Let’s explore what the Internet of Things means for us now and in the future.
How the Internet of Things could help you
If you’ve never heard of IoT, you’re probably familiar with the term “smart homes.” IoT is basically the same concept, only the Internet of Things moniker covers more uses—in businesses, clothing, pets, etc.
With the right tech you can use your smartphone to communicate with “smart” thermostats, delivering the perfect home temperature for you after work. This eliminates any unnecessary heating or cooling while you aren’t present, saving you money.
In addition to that, try to imagine how these devices could add to your convenience:
Smart bathroom scales working in tandem with your treadmill, delivering food preparation ideas to your laptop or smartphone so you stay healthy.
Security devices that monitor your home, turning on and off lights as you enter and exit rooms, and streaming video so you can check in while you’re away.
Favorite restaurants that know you’re on the way, so they prepare your favorite meal and make a reservation—all without you making one phone call.
Sound like 1950s science fiction? It’s not. The technology to do these things is here now (mostly). As devices grow smaller and smarter, they gain the ability to communicate over the Internet until everything from your toothbrush to your toaster is connected 24/7.
Our gadgets of the not-too-distant future will be household aides, each chatting away with one another, working to better serve you.
The Hacking of Things: Staying safe with IoT devices
If you’re also thinking this tech recipe has the potential for something to go extremely wrong, you’re not alone. As with any technology, the potential for both good and bad exists. The possibilities are there to serve up a hacker’s buffet of private bank logins, credit card numbers, and more. But this scenario only describes the way things are now online, which is why strong security remains essential.
Without the Web’s convenience and ATMs, we’d still have to sacrifice our lunch hours standing in long lines at our local bank. Who wants to return to that? (We’re not seeing a show of hands.)
Could unscrupulous types hack IoT security cams and watch your every move? Yes, without the proper security. What about commandeering your future TV, smoke alarms…even your hot water heater? Sure, if they’re connected. The possibilities are there.
As we move forward into a world where everything from our dogs to daffodils are web-connected, we need to ensure these connections stay safe and secure—just like we do now to keep cybercriminals at bay.
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